United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees UNHCR Case Postale 2500 CH-1211 Genève 2 Dép Switzerland

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

In 1954, UNHCR won the Nobel Peace Prize for its ground-breaking work in Europe. But it was not long before it faced our next major emergency.
In 1956, during the Hungarian Revolution, 200,000 fled to neighbouring Austria. Recognising the Hungarians as ‘prima facie’ refugees, UNHCR led efforts to resettle them. This uprising and its aftermath shaped the way humanitarian organisations would deal with refugee crises in the future. During the 1960s, the decolonisation of Africa produced the first of that continent’s numerous refugee crises. We also helped uprooted people in Asia and Latin America over the following two decades. In 1981, we received a second Nobel Peace Prize for what had become worldwide assistance to refugees.
The start of the 21st century has seen UNHCR help with major refugee crises in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. UNHCR has also been asked to use our expertise to help many internally displaced by conflict and expanded our role in helping stateless people. In some parts of the world, such as Africa and Latin America, the 1951 Refugee Convention has been strengthened by additional regional legal instruments. UNHCR now has more than 10,800 members of staff. It works in a total of 128 countries and our budget, which in its first year was USD $300,000, grew to USD $6.54 billion in 2016. In 2015, UNHCR celebrated our 65th anniversary. During its lifetime, it has helped well over 50 million refugees to successfully restart their lives.


To ensure that everyone has the right to seek asylum and find safe refuge in another State, with the option to eventually return home, integrate or resettle. During times of displacement, UNHCR provides critical emergency assistance in the form of clean water, sanitation and healthcare, as well as shelter, blankets, household goods and sometimes food. The UNHCR also arranges transport and assistance packages for people who return home, and income-generating projects for those who resettle.

Geographic Focus


Programme Areas

They work to protect the most vulnerable.

They provide shelter to those who need it most.

Advocacy helps to transform policies and services that affect displaced people.

They strive to ensure that all people forced to flee have access to life-saving healthcare.

Safeguarding Individuals
They work to help millions of people all over the world rebuild broken lives.

Global Needs Assessment
A blueprint for planning and action during times of crisis.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Social Media